Apr 03, 2014

    STI loses steam after 5 days of gains

    THE Singapore share market took a breather from its recent strong run, closing slightly lower despite the region's gains.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was down by 5.74 points or 0.18 per cent to 3,192.78, snapping a five-session winning streak in the process.

    Still, the index is 88.61 points or 2.9 per cent up from its value on March 25, before the winning streak. The recent gains have also put the STI in positive territory for the year.

    Yesterday was a story of traders cashing out, so the local market did not benefit from gains across the region. Tokyo's shares rose 1 per cent, benefiting from a weakening yen, while Hong Kong climbed 0.3 per cent.

    In Singapore, commodities trader Noble Group was the most active stock, rising six cents or 5 per cent to $1.255 as 116.2 million shares changed hands.

    It said yesterday morning that it is selling a 51 per cent stake in its agricultural unit to China's Cofco Corporation.

    Shares in OCBC Bank continued to rise after it unveiled its offer for Hong Kong's Wing Hang Bank.

    OCBC had said on Tuesday morning that it wants to buy Wing Hang for HK$38.4 billion (S$6.2 billion), or HK$125 for each Wing Hang share - less than what the market had been expecting.

    OCBC rose five cents on Tuesday, before adding another four cents yesterday to $9.60. The two-day rise of nine cents works out to a gain of 0.9 per cent.

    "We believe this acquisition will benefit OCBC in the longer term, as part of its regionalisation agenda," said DBS Group Research, with a "buy" call and $12.40 target price on OCBC.

    Outside the STI, Singapore Land (SingLand) rose three cents or 0.3 per cent to $9.50, as 13.96 million shares changed hands.

    The company is the subject of a takeover bid by United Industrial Corporation (UIC), which is offering $9.40 per share.

    Yesterday, investment fund Silchester International Investors sold 13.25 million SingLand shares, at an average of $9.50 each. This reduced Silchester's stake from 8.16 per cent to 4.95 per cent, meaning it is no longer considered a substantial shareholder and its shares are now added to the public float.

    Silchester had said on Monday that UIC's offer was too low and that it may sell down its stake so it is no longer considered a substantial shareholder.

    "This is likely to significantly impair the efforts of UIC to delist the company," said Silchester on Monday. UIC needs the public float to fall below 10 per cent to take SingLand private.